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The Great Unexpected

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,392 Ratings  ·  616 Reviews
From Newbery Medal winner and bestselling author Sharon Creech comes a grand, sweeping yarn that is a celebration of the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness. With a starred review from Kirkus Reviews calling it an "enchanting tale to treasure," The Great Unexpected captures the heart and the imagination.

Humorous and heartfelt, this is a story of
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by HarperCollins
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This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Helen Finn is the boy that the main character really likes. He is from Ireland, and likes to call the main character "tree girl".

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: juvenile
One word for my reaction to this book: Meh. I was not bowled over by the tale, I think because I felt Creech tried to include far too many elements - fairies, Irish humor, strange degrees of separation, belonging, coming of age. The alternating back and forth between the characters and setting in Ireland, and those in America was kind of confusing too me, and I think it would be so for young readers, especially as the Irish chapters were an approximationg of brogue sometimes. When Creech finally ...more
Rashika (is tired)
As gorgeous as this book was, I felt let down. Sharon Creech is one of my favorite childhood authors and I’ve been wanting to read this book forever, since it came out to be precise. I remember the excitement I felt when I found out Sharon Creech had a new book out. I added it to my Goodreads, to-read list but like the case with a lot of other books that I placed on the list, it found it’s way to a place on the list that I don’t often check.

When I finally got my hands on the book, I was excited
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Naomi and Lizzie, both orphans, have lived in Blackbird tree their whole lives with the kindly families that have taken them in. They are merely minding their own business one day when a boy falls out of a tree one day and knocks Naomi to the ground. At first they are sure he is dead, but then he gets up and introduces himself as Finn. They've never seen him before, and strangers don't come to Blackbird Tree often. Shortly after Finn's arrival another stranger comes to town and seems to be lurki ...more
Barb Middleton
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
I work with a Lizzie-type person. She doesn't take a breath, rattling through conversations like an auctioneer. Sometimes I want to make the timeout sign with my hands, other times I marvel at her yapping tongue. Lizzie Scatterding is Naomi Deane's best friend who has a good heart, is melodramatic, and can be annoyingly talkative. Both girls are orphans living in the town of Blackbird Tree and their relationship and dialogue is one of the great strengths of this novel. Dizzy Lizzy repeats everyt ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a delightful book that I read in one sitting. Sharon Creech has done it again with this beautifully written and lyrical story. It is warm, witty, full of memorable and eccentric characters, secrets and coincidences, hidden meaning and life lessons for our children. As you begin to put the pieces of the puzzle of the story together it will remind you that we are all connected by that invisible thread and the actions of one many times affect the lives of others.

Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatt
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Some of Sharon Creech's books are among my favorites, especially Walk Two Moons, but this one won't be.

The thing that most puzzles me about why this book didn't grab me is that one of the difficulties I had with the book was that I couldn't keep Lizzie and Naomi straight in my mind. This should NOT have been a problem, since Lizzie was the talker and Naomi was the dreamer. I think part of the problem is that Lizzie, the talker, wasn't the narrator of the book. So you end up with Naomi, the dream
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a delight. If I could write children's stories with as much wit and energy, and imagination, I'd be a happy man.
The characters are often laconic in speech, yet what little they say speaks volumes. Only the heroine Naomi's best friend, Lizzie, can talk the ears off a field of corn. And she does, to the reader's great enjoyment.
The chapters set in Ireland, dotted throughout the book, at first seem curious and almost alien with their dark hints at things we don't understand. Going back an
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grades 4 and up
(Reviewed ARC) Remember the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: it is alive and well in this book, but Kevin Bacon is never mentioned. No, it's the idea of connectedness, here, although you don't realize that until later. At first, it's just the story of two orphans, Naomi and Lizzie, their lives and how their lives are changed after the boy Finn falls out of tree. The girls and their guardians live in the town of Blackbird Tree; across the sea in Ireland, another story is being played out at Rook ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
What an unexpected delight! (See what I did there? ;) I found the audiobook at a library sale and snatched it up because Natalie had exclaimed over it (and she has yet to steer me wrong). Believe me when I say that this is an excellent middle grade novel. Ms. Creech takes a vast array of seemingly unconnectable characters and then gives hints little by little (keeping you turning pages or continuing to listen so you can find out what happens next) until there's an invisible thread connecting the ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Araujo
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech is one of those books that gets right into things, much like this review, and doesn’t diddle daddle. The novel features two girls, Naomi and Lizzie who meet a young man named Finn who fell from a tree and seems to act very peculiar. To be honest, I felt like there wasn’t a specific plot and that the novel just went on its way, much like life. Whether it is a good thing or a bad I’m not exactly sure. I’ve read a couple of novels where a plot was not exactly s ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is from my blog, Studies in Storytelling. http://studiesinstorytelling.blogspot...

I read this book in one sitting, and it was a complete delight. I say this as a 21-year-old college senior unaccustomed to reading Middle Grade. It releases September 4, 2012.

The twelve-year-old, neurotic Naomi has a violent past and a childlike perspective, but a refreshingly sophisticated voice. Her sarcasm and levelheadedness contrast her friend Lizzie Scatterdinghead’s innocent, tactful chatterboxi
Linda Lipko
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is yet another insightful, wonderful book by Sharon Creech.
Mentioned as a potential Newbery award winner for 2013, I hope Creech is successful in garnering her third Newbery award.

I loved Walk Two Moons, a Newbery medal winner in 1995. She won a Newbery honor in 2001 for The Wanderer.

The setting of The Great Unexpected is a teeny, tiny, hamlet of Blackbird Tree. Naomi and Lizzie are good friends, both are orphans. Many in the town of Blackbird face difficult lives. In fact, one new teacher
Debra McCracken
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I find I agree with other readers--I wanted to like it, and I found parts of it very charming and funny. But the story did not hold together, and I had a hard time imagining how a middle-school reader could ever figure it out. The boy Finn's role was left unfinished; it was hard to figure out in what time period it was supposed to be written; and Lizzie was just a little too odd for my tastes. The concept of connectedness was a great premise, but it played out a little too amorphously.
I did like
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I spent the majority of this book simultaneously confused and delighted. I was spellbound by the rich world, the spunky orphan girl at the center of the story, her best friend, the rest of the colorful cast of characters, and the fabulously wicked and seemingly unrelated snippets of life with Pilpenny and Sybil. Slowly, as if groping in the dark and feeling the outlines of objects, the story's plot came together for me, but always with a firm sense that I was missing something. Fortunately, the ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
3.5 stars

This is a lovely book. I really rather enjoyed it. However, I really think my daughters missed out on some of the nuances of the story and how the characters intertwined because they didn't pay close enough attention to my reading every night. This is definitely a book that leaves subtle hints throughout and you need to pay attention. Creech does another fine job in writing a beautiful middle grade novel.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I want more books like this one. A book that is beautifully written, has quirky characters, humor, mystery/adventure, makes you care what happens, and even has sad parts. Sharon Creech has done it again. If the Newbery committee overlooks this book I might cry. Can't wait to share this book with kids this fall.

May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This book was weird and confusing. It didn't hold my attention very well. I'm guessing the setting is from the early 1900's or something from the way people talk, but the author doesn't give any kind of setting. It's not one that in would probably ever read again
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, fiction
This was a delightful read. Told in a back and forth manner between goings-on in the United States and happenings in Ireland there is just enough mystery to pique the reader's interest without becoming too confusing. The characters are well fleshed out and the plot moves along steadily. Told from the point of view of a young girl, Naomi, whose life has not been any easy one, the story is never maudlin and rings true to a narrative of someone of that age.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
The Great Unexpected is one of those books that defies a plot summary. It's centered around two orphan girls, Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatterding, who live in the small town of Blackbird Tree, but the story incorporates a vast number of other characters, and reaches far past the town limits. There are plots, and sub-plots, and it's the way that they intertwine that forms the heart of the book.

Indeed, it would probably be 500 pages, rather than 225, if it explained all of the details of each subpl
When I was in the sixth grade my teacher recommended that I read Walk Two Moons and it changed my life. It was one of those books that tore through my soul and combusted the world into a brand new place. As a 12-year old, I think it finally helped me to start seeing "the bigger picture." I loved everything about that book and read it several more times through junior high and high school.

Naturally, I decided that I had to read everything else by Sharon Creech and I fell in love with her writing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 27, 2017 added it
Very strange. Surreal?
Does anyone really talk like Lizzie?
How old are the different generations of characters, really?
Who is young Finn?
(view spoiler)
Why do people have different names we have to keep track of? Or do we have to?
(view spoiler)
Is there something deep & magical in the book that I'm missing, or is it a creative mess?

I've enjoyed other works by Cre
Wandering Librarians
Naomi and Lizzie, two orphan girls living in Blackbird Tree, are minding their own business when a boy falls out of a tree at their feet. Once Finn shows up, things become very strange. The mysterious Dingle Dangle man comes to town for an unknown purpose, and things begin changing, fast, and Naomi isn't sure if it's for the better. She begins to see the strange connections between people, even people far across the sea in Ireland.

I love Sharon Creech. I grew up reading Walk Two Moons and Chasin
Ms. Yingling
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
The town of Blackbird Tree has more than its fair share of orphans and old people. Naomi lives with Nula and Joe, her mother having passed away shortly after her birth, and her father dying of an infection after a dog attack that also disfigured Naomi's arm. Her friend Lizzie lives with a couple she hopes will adopt her. The two makes friends with Finn, an unusual boy who also has a mysterious past. While the children in Blackbird Tree are hanging out, helping the strange and elderly (Crazy Cora ...more
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
An intriguing book--I enjoyed it very much and read it quickly. I don't think I quite grasped everything, but it seems well worth a reread. I loved the hints at adolescent angst (not written in an ANGSTY way, but a real way), and the characters, and the setting--the Irish setting was perhaps better defined than the American setting, but that might have been done purposefully. I love the way the story slips in and out of the real world.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a little Irish folklore mix
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, tween-novel
Darn! Frustration! Damnation!

I really liked this book (or to put it more truthfully, I liked the IDEA of this book) and I wanted it to flow SO much better than it actually did. It is a sometimes charming and very funny tale about two young ladies who are orphans and live in what appears to be some sort of timeless village called Blackbird Tree in the U.S. An Irish boy turns up one day and starts turning their lives and thoughts around. Through an insane series of events, told in alternating chap
Lizzie and Naomi are wonderful, with lyrical (almost poetic) voices. It took a bit to get into the stories shifting between Blackbird Tree and Rook's Orchard, but they slowly came together and the "why" went away. Although the story is fresh and original, the folktale / ghost story elements make it comfortable ... as does the humor! The short chapters add to the fun of reading this in smaller bits because it allowed the vividness of Creech's storytelling to sink in and to think up questions abou ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Great Unexpected is a story of Naomi and Lizzie, both orphans in present-day Blackbird Tree, USA, and of Sybil and Nula, grown-up sisters from faraway Rooks Orchard, Ireland.Young Naomi Deane is brimming with curiosity and her best friend, Lizzie Scatterding, could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens. She knows all the peculiar people in town-like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins. But then, one day, a boy drops out of a tree, Finn. And then the ...more
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I was born in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up there with my noisy and rowdy family: my parents (Ann and Arvel), my sister (Sandy), and my three brothers (Dennis, Doug and Tom).
For a fictional view of what it was like growing up in my family, see Absolutely Normal Chaos. (In that book, the brothers even have the same names as my own brothers.) Our house was not only full of
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“What's important is the ambition that results from our weakness.” 6 likes
“A driver had been sent to meet us. He was gray-haired, short, and nimble and introduced himself. "I am Patrick and so is every fourth man in Ireland, and the ones in between are named Sean or Mick or Finn, and I'll be driving you.” 5 likes
More quotes…